Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Get To Know... Judy Kingston

Photo courtesy of Serendipity Winery
Judy Kingston
Proprietor, Serendipity Winery
Naramata Bench, BC

The youthful industry that it is, many who venture into the production of fine wine in British Columbia come to do so by way of financial success in a previous career. Judy Kingston's path to proprietorship ventured through many careers, including a long stint as a top technology lawyer in Toronto, before her dream to own a winery was ignited on a wine tour in the Okanagan in 2005.

Wanting to be a knowledgeable, hands-on winery owner, Kingston studied viticulture and winemaking at Okanagan College and has played an active role in the production of her firm's wines since inception. With the hiring of the talented Bradley Cooper in 2014, Kingston will be able to focus more on the on-going evolution, or maturation, of her business and the all-important exercise of brand-building to help distinguish the Naramata Bench based winery from its competitors.

Key Wines To Try:
Reserve Serenata: 2010
Viognier: 2013
Sauvignon Blanc: 2013

1. What do you enjoy most about making wine?
I love that every year, mother nature brings you totally different challenges and flavours to harvest. In the most natural way possible, I try to bring out the best characteristics of the grapes that year. Because I am a frustrated chef – my metal knee prevents me from working in a kitchen full time – it is really important to me that each grape variety is able to express as many of its characteristics as possible to allow it to pair with as many foods as possible.

2. What inspired you to become a winemaker?
I love to cook, but because of my metal knee I can’t stand for long periods of time at a chef’s station to work in a restaurant, and in my mind winemaking was the closest to cooking as I could get.  I find that growing the grapes and making the wine gives me the same creative outlet that I had with cooking.

3. What causes you the most stress during harvest?
Harvest to me is the best part of the winemaking experience. While it is a very busy time, I don’t find it stressful but you have to manage your time properly as there is a lot going on. It is exciting to see the grapes when they come in and to visualize the potential for the wine of that vintage.

4. What is your favourite and/or least favourite wine cliché?
You can’t make a great wine without great grapes – I love this cliché, because it gives the farmers the credit that they truly deserve. People think that all we do is sit around and drink wine all day. And the (few) days that I get to do that, I really enjoy that cliché!

5. Away from the cellar and vineyard, what’s your greatest passion in life?
I really love to cook, particularly when it’s for friends and family. I’ve started to get known around the valley for the elaborate meals that I will sometimes make for the workers that come here, particularly during harvest. When I cook, I really try to think about the person that I’m cooking for, and the meal becomes an expression of my feelings for them.

6. After a long day of work in the cellar, what do you turn to for refreshment?
It depends on the season. This summer I really got into mojitos, and in the winter I love a warm cup of herbal tea.

7. If you could take credit for one other BC wine on the market today, which would it be and why?
Blue Mountain, I like them because each wine is very varietal specific, and they’re very true to the nature of the grape, totally expressing itself in the wine.

8. Of the wines in your portfolio, do you have a favourite food pairing to go with one of the wines?
Definitely salmon with my rosé. Because my rosé is dry and has five different red varieties in it, it is a quite versatile wine to pair with. Salmon brings out these beautiful notes in both the fish and in the wine. It’s quite magical.

9. What do you think will be the next big trend in BC wine over the next few years?
The wines are starting to get drier, which we’re starting to see in the rosés and I think will shift towards all varietals. I think this shows growth and maturity in our winemaking region as a whole.

10. Screw cap or cork? What’s your preference?
As a winery owner, my preference is the use screw cap. When you use cork, there will always be a certain percentage of your wine that has cork taint, and many customers don’t know what that tastes like. You run the risk of a customer trying a cork-tainted bottle, and having a tarnished image of your brand if they don’t know what cork taint tastes like. While it’s hard to do an analysis of long-term ageing in screw caps since they haven’t been around for very long, my experience is that there is no detriment to ageing your wine in screw caps instead of cork.

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2015

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